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Neil Englehart, assistant professor of government and law at Lafayette, has received an appointment to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., for the 2002-03 school year.

IAS is a private institution dedicated to the support of learning through fundamental research and definitive scholarship across a wide range of fields. It was founded in 1930 by Louis Bamberger and Caroline Bamberger Fuld as a center where intellectual inquiry can be carried out in the most favorable circumstances. The institute has been home to some of the most highly regarded thinkers of the 20th century. Albert Einstein is among more than a dozen Nobel Laureates have been faculty or members of the institute. Many other members are winners of the Wolf or MacArthur prizes or the Fields Medal.

At the institute Englehart will continue his research on the weakening and decline of state institutions in certain areas since the end of the Cold War, and the negative consequences of that decline for human rights.

“Although ‘nation-building’ has recently become a term of abuse in American politics, building the capacity of rational-legal states should be at the forefront of human rights concerns, both in government policy and in private and NGO activism,” says Englehart. “Only strong states can guarantee human rights, or be held accountable if they fail to do so. Weak, corrupt, and failed states cannot enforce rights, and their incapacity not only fails their citizens but also creates problems – even crises – for other states.

”The primary threat to human rights in the modern world is the decline of rational-legal authority in modern states, either in the form of the erosion of state institutions through corruption, or the total collapse of states due to civil war, famine or other disasters. The human rights community has generally failed to recognize this, due to its anti-statist prejudices. However, dealing adequately with contemporary human rights emergencies will require recognition of the crucial role of states in securing rights.”

Englehart is spending this school year on junior faculty leave at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, researching the particular set of institutions that comprise the modern state — territoriality, bureaucracy, and the monopoly of the use of force. His work at the university is focused on how those institutions spread in the 19th century in Britain, Burma, and Siam. He received a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for his research at the India Office Archives of the British Library in England and the Thai National Archives in Thailand.

Last year, Englehart published Culture and Power in Traditional Siamese Government, a book in which he argued that political reform in 19th-century Siam is an example of intentional cultural change in response to new ideas. Much of the basic work in the Thai National Archives necessary for the current project was begun during research for the book.

In related work, Englehart participated in a 1999 NEH summer seminar, “Cultural Difference and Values: Human Rights and the Challenge of Cultural Relativism.” He is co-editing a book entitled Constructed Universalisms: Human Rights in an Age of Globalization that emerged from the seminar, and has contributed an article to the book entitled “A Constructed Universalism: Democracy and Rights in the Modern State.”

Previously, Englehart received a Fulbright Fellowship for research in Thailand and a Fulbright scholarship for language study there. He is a fluent reader and speaker of Thai.

A member of the Lafayette faculty since 1997, Englehart has published several articles in academic publications and given talks at several conferences, including last year’s annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. In 1999, he was panel organizer, chair, and presenter at the Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies.

Englehart has worked with several Lafayette students on research projects. He advised Cameron Hall of Portland, Ore., who graduated in 2001 with honors in International Affairs, on his senior honors thesis on the growth of globalization and its impact on state sovereignty. Hall presented results from his work last year at the 15th annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Englehart also served as thesis adviser for Ken Kligge of Hatfield, Pa., a double major in government and law and International Affairs who graduated with honors in 2000. Kligge wrote on international nuclear weapons policy, examining how a new, innovative method for weapons-storage might reduce the chances of an accidental launch of intercontinental nuclear missiles.

Englehart also mentored Susan Antonioni of Hellertown, Pa., a 2001 magna cum laude government and law graduate, in an EXCEL Scholars project exploring the relationship between political culture and human rights policies in India, Japan, China, South Korea, and Singapore. In Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, students collaborate closely with faculty members on research projects while earning a stipend.

Since 1998, Englehart has been a member of the Atlantic Region of the Association for Asian Studies Advisory Committee, and he is a peer reviewer for Political Theory, Journal of Asian Studies, and Publius: The Journal of Federalism, which is published at Lafayette and edited by John Kincaid, Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service and director of Lafayette’s Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government.

Englehart earned a Ph.D. and master’s in political science from the University of California, San Diego, in 1996 and 1991, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree in history and East Asian Studies from Oberlin College in 1987. He has been visiting assistant professor of political science and international studies at Northwestern University and instructor in political science at the University of California, San Diego.

Categorized in: Academic News